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Does Working Out Increase Sex Drive?

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/22/2023

Updated 04/22/2024

Maybe you’re looking for ripped abs or bulging biceps. Or maybe you want to improve things for you and your partner in bed.  

Googling things like “Does exercise increase libido” or “Does working out make you more horny,” will generate results that suggest exercise can improve your sexual health, but there’s a big difference between “exercise is good” and “push-ups lead to better sex.”

So, does working out increase sex drive and boost your libido? Maybe. Exercise has benefits for your sex life beyond how you look and how much stamina you have.

Below, we’ll explain the many ways a workout supports your libido, as well as the best exercises for better bedroom performance.

A healthy libido requires a healthy cardiovascular system, well-balanced hormones, good mental health and enough stamina to actually do the deed. Turns out, those are the exact things exercise can help with, according to a 2019 study, which found a close correlation between exercise and libido in older adults.

Many studies have shown that insufficient exercise can lead to problems with sexual performance, like lower levels of the sex hormone testosterone, low libido and increased blood pressure.

Similarly,  obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with vascular issues that’ll likely increase your risk of erectile dysfunction. Good exercise habits can ward off those problems, even if you’re starting out for the very first time..

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So, what specifically does some cardio and strength training do for erections and intimacy? Turns out, lots.

Whether it’s time spent with kettlebells, on the treadmill or on the stationary bike, exercise can directly or indirectly impact your sex life, including:

  • Increased blood flow. Regular exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise, improves blood circulation and increases blood flow throughout the body, including the genital area. Enhanced blood flow to the genital organs can promote sexual arousal and responsiveness.

  • Hormonal effects. Exercise has been shown to influence hormone levels, including testosterone, which plays a significant role in sexual desire. Intense or resistance-based exercise, such as weight lifting, may temporarily increase testosterone levels, potentially boosting libido.

  • Stress reduction. Exercise is known to reduce stress levels by stimulating the release of endorphins, commonly referred to as “feel-good” hormones. Lower stress levels can positively impact sexual desire by reducing anxiety, promoting relaxation and enhancing mood.

  • Improved body image and self-confidence. Regular exercise can lead to improvements in body composition, muscle tone and overall physical fitness. These changes can enhance body image and self-confidence, which may positively influence sexual desire and self-perception.

  • Enhanced energy levels and stamina. Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular fitness, endurance and overall energy levels. Increased stamina and physical vitality can translate to improved sexual performance and a heightened desire for sexual activity.

  • Enhanced mood and mental well-being. Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Improved mood and mental well-being can have a direct influence on sexual desire and overall sexual satisfaction.

  • Increased body awareness and sensuality. Engaging in exercises that promote body awareness, such as yoga or dance, can help people connect with their bodies and increase their overall sense of sensuality. This heightened body awareness can lead to an enhanced sexual experience and desire.

  • Improved sleep quality. Regular exercise has been linked to better sleep quality and duration. Sufficient sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy libido and sexual function. By promoting restful sleep, exercise can indirectly contribute to improved sexual desire and performance.

Choose your chew

There’s evidence suggesting that pretty much any form of regular exercise can have a positive impact on sexual health and libido. So what’s going to get you there fastest? What’s the training technique of choice for an Olympian libido? 

Well, this isn’t necessarily prescriptive. This may come as frustrating news for the “just tell me what to do” crowd — but good news for those who want to chart their own path.

Here’s a list of exercise types that have been associated with potential improvements in sex drive:

Keep scrolling to learn why.

Weight Lifting

Resistance training exercises, like weight lifting, can help increase testosterone levels in both men and women. Testosterone plays a crucial role in sexual desire and performance, making strength training beneficial for improving sex drive.

Yoga

Practicing yoga can help reduce stress levels, increase flexibility and improve body awareness. A 2010 study of 65 men found across-the-board benefits to a regular yoga routine over 12 weeks. 

Some internet sources suggest that certain yoga poses, such as the bridge pose or the cat-cow pose, could potentially enhance sexual function and libido by exercising the pelvic floor muscles, though we weren’t able to find specific studies to support this.

Swimming

Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that can improve cardiovascular fitness and overall endurance. Regular swimming can increase stamina, promote weight management and boost overall fitness, which can positively impact sexual performance.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, commonly known as kegel exercises, involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor. These exercises can improve muscle tone and strength in the pelvic region, leading to enhanced sexual pleasure and orgasm control.

Cardio

Engaging in aerobic activities such as running, cycling, brisk walking or dancing can enhance blood circulation and cardiovascular health. This improved blood flow from cardiovascular exercise can positively affect sexual function and overall libido.

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While any of the above activities is better than nothing, we should note that the effectiveness of these exercises in improving sex drive can depend on various factors, such as overall health, underlying medical conditions and personal preferences.

Before taking on any new-to-you physical activity, it’s smart to consult with a healthcare professional or a certified fitness trainer for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific needs and goals.

Here are some important takeaways from what we discussed:

  • YES, cardiovascular and strength training exercises provide numerous benefits for your libido and sexual health.

  • AND of the benefits, increased stamina, better cardiovascular health and improved mood and self-esteem can deliver major improvements to your sex life.

  • BUT if you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction or another condition, seeking specific treatment is going to be more effective than hitting the gym alone.

  • SO, ED medications for sexual dysfunction like Viagra®, Cialis®, Stendra® and Levitra® are something you should consider. 

  • You can learn more about sexual medicine in our guide to PDE5 inhibitors.

In short,  hitting the gym, pool or punching bag can be great ways to pump up your muscles and, yes, penis.

But those gains only come with time, so start today.

11 Sources

  1. Sooriyamoorthy T, Leslie SW. Erectile Dysfunction. [Updated 2022 Feb 14]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/.
  2. Hehemann, M. C., & Kashanian, J. A. (2016). Can lifestyle modification affect men’s erectile function?. Translational andrology and urology, 5(2), 187–194. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837314/.
  3. Dorey, G., Speakman, M., Feneley, R., Swinkels, A., Dunn, C., & Ewings, P. (2004). Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 54(508), 819–825. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1324914/.
  4. Lee, B. A., & Oh, D. J. (2015). Effect of regular swimming exercise on the physical composition, strength, and blood lipid of middle-aged women. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 11(5), 266–271. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4625655/.
  5. Dhikav, V., Karmarkar, G., Verma, M., Gupta, R., Gupta, S., Mittal, D., & Anand, K. (2010). Yoga in male sexual functioning: a noncompararive pilot study. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(10), 3460–3466. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20646186/.
  6. Hehemann, M. C., & Kashanian, J. A. (2016). Can lifestyle modification affect men’s erectile function?. Translational andrology and urology, 5(2), 187–194. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837314/.
  7. Gerbild, H., Larsen, C. M., Graugaard, C., & Areskoug Josefsson, K. (2018). Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Sexual medicine, 6(2), 75–89. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960035/.
  8. Smith, L., Grabovac, I., Yang, L., Veronese, N., Koyanagi, A., & Jackson, S. E. (2019). Participation in Physical Activity is Associated with Sexual Activity in Older English Adults. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(3), 489. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388286/.
  9. Hsiao, W., Shrewsberry, A. B., Moses, K. A., Johnson, T. V., Cai, A. W., Stuhldreher, P., Dusseault, B., & Ritenour, C. W. (2012). Exercise is associated with better erectile function in men under 40 as evaluated by the International Index of Erectile Function. The journal of sexual medicine, 9(2), 524–530. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22145804/.
  10. Vingren, J. L., Kraemer, W. J., Ratamess, N. A., Anderson, J. M., Volek, J. S., & Maresh, C. M. (2010). Testosterone physiology in resistance exercise and training: the up-stream regulatory elements. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 40(12), 1037–1053. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21058750/.
  11. Jiannine L. M. (2018). An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioning. Journal of education and health promotion, 7, 57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963213/.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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